Unpublished Saints: Making Mexican Martyrs in American Archives

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In the early 1940s US-Mexico borderlands, two siblings named Carlos and María de la Torre dedicated years of their lives to drafting, revising, and completing, but not publishing, a 32-page biographical profile of their close friend Fidel Muro, who had been executed by the Mexican government for his participation in the Cristero War (1926-1929). The completed semblanza, which the De la Torres titled "Fidel Muro, Mexican Martyr,"follows Muro from his childhood to his days as a Cristero fighter and, ultimately, to his death as a Cristero martyr. In telling Muro's story, the De la Torres also memorialize the broader Cristero movement, which sought to overthrow the postrevolutionary Mexican government and replace its secularizing policies with a religious nationalism that insisted on the synonymity of Catholicism and Mexican identity. Though the Cristeros were unsuccessful, exiles like the De la Torres kept the ideals of the movement alive through writing, much of it produced in the US. Cristero writing has garnered far less attention within Mexican and Latinx literary criticism than writing depicting the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), yet I argue that both early twentieth-century conflicts have played a fundamental role in shaping the uneven terrain of US and Mexican modernities. Placing the [De la Torres'] unpublished semblanza at the center of Latina/o/x literary history begins to reveal the multiplicity of conceptualizations of Latina/o/x identity, from the fully realized to the barely imagined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-90
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Literary History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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